Ah, to dream of a golden age, in which all TV fell under a single bracket, and viewers never needed to worry about when, and how to get their favorite shows.  For a time, it had seemed like the advent of Hulu and other digital mediums would usher in that age, but now, more restrictions have begun cropping up on how viewers can use the site.  Requiem, and terra pax, and so forth.

According to Fox Business, Hulu has taken the first steps toward unveiling a process called "authentication," in which subscribers would be required to log in with their cable, or satellite TV account numbers, thereby proving their status as paying customers before accessing the site.  Previously, Hulu had been a free-for-all service, in conjunction with the subscription-based Hulu Plus that allowed access to more content, with fewer ad breaks.  Says the official report:

Hulu, which attracted 31 million unique users in March under a free-for-all model, is taking its first steps to change to a model where viewers will have to prove they are a pay-TV customer to watch their favorite shows, according to sources.

In fact, the move by Hulu toward the new model — called authentication because viewers would have to log in with their cable or satellite TV account number — was behind the move last week by Providence Equity Partners to cash out of Hulu after five years, these sources said.

This model would operate similarly to the HBO GO model, ultimately pleasing cable companies by making their services more attractive to viewers, and in fact FOX is said to be negotiating a similar deal with Comcast for the future.  Of course, the move might have a backlash if the average viewer decides to seek out illegal modes of TV streaming, rather than purchase cable to begin with.  The model would also require cable service to view major network programming, which by themselves are free on TV.

What say you?  Does Hulu's move toward a new business model affect the way you watch your favorite shows, or do you prefer the old-fashioned method?  Give us your reaction in the comments!